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Diatom algae tell story of climate change in Greenland (Image 7)

Diatom species <em>Gomphonema</em>, taken from a lake sample in Greenland

Diatom species Gomphonema, taken from a lake sample near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Jasmine Saros, a lake ecologist at The University of Maine, and her research team gather diatom samples from lakes in southwestern Greenland to study how climate change is affecting the arctic ecosystem in this area. In particular, Saros is studying how different species thrive or falter under changing conditions.

Diatoms, a type of algae that leave a fossil in the lake sediment, are bioindicators--species that serves as a representative sample of their ecosystem and a monitor of environmental change. By examining the fossils, which can provide a record going back thousands of years, Saros can determine which diatom species were here in the past. Her team is studying water and mud samples gathered from lakes around the edge of Russell glacier and are using information gleaned as a tool to better understand how environmental change affects the lakes' ecosystems.

Saros wants to determine the effects of climate-driven changes on nutrients and water column stability on the relative abundances of key diatom species, and to apply that information to existing diatom records to determine climate-induced changes in these lake ecosystems. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant PRL 12-03434), an Arctic System Science program award for "Deciphering the ecology of key diatom taxa to understand climate-induced changes in West Greenland lakes."

To learn more, view the Science Nation video Diatom algae populations tell a story about climate change in Greenland. (Date of Image: 2007-2011) [Image 7 of 9 related images. See Image 8.]

Credit: Jasmine Saros, University of Maine

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